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The Only Two Grand Canyon Airplane Tours Worth Flying By Marc Gaspian | Saying the Grand Canyon is gargantuan is an understatement. This natural wonder is 190 miles long, goes one mile deep, and encompasses up to 1,900 square miles. Explore it on foot and you’ll barely scratch the surface. If you really want to tackle this National Park, you’re only true option is an airplane tour. In my opinion, there are only two tours that are up for the task. The first one, which departs from the Las Vegas area, is called the Grand Canyon Deluxe. The other, which leaves from Grand Canyon Airport, AZ, is the Grand Discovery. Grand Canyon Airlines operates both of these flights. Let’s take a closer look: Grand Canyon Deluxe This flight departs from Las Vegas, NV, and it’s the only air tour that goes direct to the South Rim. Flight time to the National Park is 45 minutes. The trip is conducted aboard a fixed-wing Vistaliner, an aircraft that has been fitted with over-sized windows for sightseeing (and photos!) and an enlarged cabin for comfort. Optional in-flight prerecorded tour narration in multiple languages is offered. The flight pretty much follows the Colorado River east. You’ll fly over Lake Mead, the biggest reservoir in the U.S., and Hoover Dam, the second largest dam in the nation, before touching down at Grand Canyon Airport. Here, you’ll deplane and board a luxury bus to the South Rim. This part is a guided tour, which will stop at Mather Point, the most popular lookout at the South Rim, before going onward to Grand Canyon Village, where there are a number of fabulous gift shops and restaurants. You can book this trip at $190 for adults and $170 for kids (these are discount Internet prices). Total trip time is eight hours. Grand Discovery Departs from Grand Canyon Airport in Tusayan, Arizona. The airport is about 10 minutes from the South Rim’s main entrance gate. Many consider this the tour that "defined" airplane trips above the Park. Trip is done aboard a Vistaliner. Daily departures. Flight plan takes it eastward, where it crosses Zuni Point and Zuni Corridor. Sights include the Desert Watchtower, the Navajo Indian Reservation, and the Painted Desert, among other things. The return follows along isolated North Rim past Imperial

Point, the tallest point in the canyon, before banking left into the Dragoon Corridor, the widest, deepest part of the canyon, and then descending over the verdant Kaibab Plateau. Every seat is a good one. Cost is around $120 for adults and $98 for kids (online price only). Air time is 50 minutes. The most popular question I get from folks who want to see the Grand Canyon is this: What’s the difference between the South Rim and the West Rim? Here are some facts that clarify the two places: The South Rim, AZ, Grand Canyon National Park The South Rim is located in Arizona and is more than 270 miles away from Las Vegas. It’s four hours from Phoenix and two hours from Sedona, AZ. This rim is classic canyon: Most of the photos you’ve seen are from this area. It’s famous for its viewpoints (Mather Point, Yaki Point, Hermit’s Rest), trails (Bright Angel, South Kaibab), and gift shops (Hopi House, Bright Angel Lodge, Kolb Studio). From Las Vegas, two types of tours regularly go here: Bus (a 5.5-hour drive) and airplane (a 45-minute flight). West Rim This rim is just a mere 120 miles from Las Vegas. It lies slightly beyond the National Park’s official boundaries. Here, you will find the incredible Grand Canyon Skywalk, a glass bridge that takes you 70 feet past the edge whereupon you’ll find yourself suspended 4,000 feet above the Colorado River. The West Rim is also the only place where you can take a helicopter to the bottom. The most popular ways to get here are by bus (2.5-hour drive) and by airplane (25-minute flight). Please note that there are no direct airplane tours between the West Rim and the South Rim and vice versa. I’ve taken the South Rim bus and airplane tours from Las Vegas. I adamantly recommend the Grand Canyon airplane tour. It’s worth paying extra because you get to the rim quicker and you’re fresh when you land. You also get back to Las Vegas in time to go out for dinner and a show. As for flights that originate from South Rim, AZ, the Grand Discovery tour is far and away the best value. The parts of the canyon you experience in 50 minutes would take at least a week to see on foot. It’s also ridiculously priced. So go and get your boarding pass and your camera - it’s time to fly and master the Grand Canyon. #30#

The Only Two Grand Canyon Airplane Tours Worth Flying  

Giant. Huge. Mega. Monstrous. Just a few of the words visitors use to describe the Grand Canyon. So, how do you visit such a behemoth and wa...